Cromwell Martial Arts offers a weapons program consisting of forms and practice drills involving Bo Staff, Sai, Kama, Broadsword, Bokken, Nunchaku, and Arnis. The entire weapons program is currently only taught in private lessons although some forms are taught at advanced levels in the Kenpo curriculum. The weapons program is a stand alone system with it's own belt ranking or it can be incorporated into your current training. For more information on this versatile and challenging program, please contact Sensei Shekosky.
Even though the term "karate" means "empty hands", most weapons were developed to be extensions of those empty hands. Most techniques we learn can be modified to have a weapon in hand. Most of the common weapons were first developed for the same reason Karate was developed; the common people needed to protect themselves. In the late 1400's, ownership of weapons was prohibited. For this reason, most weapons had an everyday use. Farmers transformed their work tools into weapons. Listed below are the various weapons taught in our program. We have also included a brief description and possible origin of each weapon.
Nunchaku - Traditionally thought to be a farm tool used to the beat grain, rice or wheat. The weapon consists of two pieces of hardwood connected by rope or chain(braided horsehair was originally used). The nunchaku is used in conjunction with various strikes, stances and blocking techniques. The practitioner typically holds one end of the nunchaku and twirls the other to complete a strike.
Sai - Sometimes referred to as the "short sword", the sai was originally thought to be used as a pitchfork or plowing tool for planting seeds. This weapon is between 15-21 inches long and made of iron. Usually used in pairs, some practitioners also had a third sai for throwing. The sai is used to stab, strike, block, trap and punch. Proper use of the sai takes years of training.
Kamas - Basically this weapon is an ordinary farming sickle used to cut grass or sugar cane. This weapon is also used in pairs and in close quarter fighting. The practitioner uses the kama to trap his/her opponent's weapon and for various strikes. Traditionally, a sash or chain was attached to the kama for greater striking distance.
Bo/Staff - Because of its everyday uses, the bo/staff was the most commonly used of all the Okinawan weapons. It was traditionally used to carry baskets, buckets of water, piloting boats and something as simple as a walking stick. This weapon by definition is usually 6 feet in length. Because of its length, this weapon gives the practitioner the greatest striking distance. It can be used for blocking and striking. This weapon requires a sound knowledge of empty-hand techniques and solid stances.
Broadsword - Unlike Okinawan weapons, this weapon was designed to be a weapon. The broadsword is associated with many fighting styles. This weapon requires fluid movements, pinpoint strikes, mental awareness and a solid understanding of weight distribution. The blade of this weapon is broader(hence the name) than traditional swords, making it ideal for blocking. This weapon is often used by Tai-Chi and Kung-Fu practitioners.
Arnis Stick - Known by the name Arnis or Escrima stick, this weapon was also used by many fighting systems. This weapon has many origins, but most commonly associated with the Philipines. This weapon can be used for striking, blocking and trapping. Usually 24-28 inches in length and made of bamboo or rattan. It can be used in singularly or in pairs.
Bokken - Traditionally, Samurai carried both a steel blade and a wooden bokken. Today, this weapon is sometimes associated with Aikido and is used as a training tool. This weapon requires solid stances, accuracy, fluid movements and great mental discipline. Ideally, this weapon should be crafted from hardwoods.